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by templemarker

Notes: There’s general spoilage for “Pitiless as the Sun” and “Tunnel at the End of the Light.” For Minim. My girl. Because she knows that “cowboy” isn’t spelled “cowbody.” Written for the 500-Word Improv #1: (pocket; crimson; memory; deity). Props to Viridian5 for being incredibly gracious informing me about canon. This story was remixed by EA Karras in Remix II: Electric Boogalo; read Wings of Azrael (Racing Thoughts Remix).


“Row, row, row your boat–” Clang, clang, clang.

“Gently down the stream–” Bang, skritch, clang.

“Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily–” Clunk, boing, thunk.

“Life–” Clang. “–is but–” Clang. “–a DREAM.”

Harper emerged from the wreckage piled on top of his workbench; he had a smudge of oil swiped across his forehead that he didn’t seem to have noticed yet, and was cheerfully banging one of his hundreds of tools against the block of metal in a terrible bastardization of “Row, row, row your boat.”

He twirled the laser-operated tool in his hand like an ancient revolver, blew across the top, and stuck it in his belt in a parody of a cowboy. This was followed by a wince as he realized he hadn’t turned off the switch when he stuck it down his pocket, so about now there was a freaking hot laser ripping through his pants. He pulled it out quickly and threw it across the room, doing a little dance that would theoretically help end the pain.

The end-the-pain dance really only served to get an indelicate snort from Rommie-the-computer, who was watching him from a small corner of one panel. He shouted, “Shaddup!” before tossing a rag over the viewscreen.

Harper jumped up onto the table across from the hunk of junk that littered half the workshop, his legs dangling over the edge. He looked like a hopped up ten year old with a new toy. Hell, he felt like a hopped up ten year old with a new toy. The new toy being the Secret Project.

It was good to have something to work on. Wait–he loved Rommie. Loved working on Rommie, even loved it when she got damaged just so he could fix her. But for the most part, she ran herself. She knew herself better than he did. Which is why it was nice to have something that was his. He thanked whatever deity out there that he’d been given the go-ahead on this. It was something to distract him from the memory of those damned–

Yeah. He wasn’t thinking about it. Which was the whole point of the Secret Project. It even had capital letters in his mind.

There was a beep-beep-beep from the corner, and Harper went to retrieve the laser from where it was ripping crimson-hot holes in the wall. One small press on the proper pad, and the tool buzzed off, leaving Harper to shove another unfinished project a few feet to the left to hide the slightly gaping puncture into the next level.

He went back to the Special Project, grasping for a couple of other tools as he walked. He knew exactly where everything was. He liked that he knew where everything was. He liked that he had his own space.

He liked that for a few hours every day he could forget that he was this close to dying.

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